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What is network mapping software?
Network mapping software automatically discovers all existing devices, users, and services on a network. Through the use of tree-like hierarchical visualizations and color-coding, you can easily see how company assets are interconnected, giving administrators a top-down view of an entire network configuration.
The benefits of network mapping software
- Faster deployment: By creating easy-to-read maps of an entire network, administrators can easily project how additional devices or services will interconnect with the current network hierarchy, thereby reducing deployment time for new IT projects.
- Virtual asset management: Through the use of GIS (Global Information System) technology, network mapping software shows not only the location of fixed devices on a network, but also allows administrators to visualize interconnectivity of mobile network assets using the same mapping tool.
- Improved troubleshooting: Through a top-down view of a network’s hierarchy, administrators can more readily identify bottlenecks in processing and workflow throughput.
- Ease of collaboration: Network mapping software allows users to export network maps in a variety of different file formats, thereby facilitating the distribution of network schematics via email or other correspondence.
- Security planning: Rendered maps of the network allow administrators to visualize different levels of network security from a top-down view. This powerful tool allows them to identify flaws in their existing security schema and conceptualize future deployments.
Typical features of network mapping software
- Device autodiscovery: Automatically detects devices and services on a computer network.
- Hierarchical mapping: Creates a tree-like schematic to help visualize relationships between devices and services.
- Map exporting: Allows users to export maps of related network devices and services to PDF and other external file types.
- Location-based mapping: Makes use of GIS technology and the internet to track the location of users and devices.
- Color codes/icons: Allows users to apply color-coding to text and icons so they can easily identify assets on a network.
The network mapping software directory lets you filter by feature(s) to view only options that meet your business needs, which can help you narrow your software shortlist.
Considerations when purchasing network mapping software
- Importance of GIS: Most network mapping offerings utilize GIS information to update the location of network assets in real time. However, depending on the size and geographical distribution of your network, it may not be necessary to employ a network mapping software that employs GIS technology (especially if deploying in a single location).
- CMDB versus network mapping: While most network mapping software packages focus on visualizing the connections between network assets, configuration management database (CMDB) software goes a step further by recording version numbers of software used by an organization. In some cases, CMDB software automatically updates out-of-date versions. CMDB can also identify illegally licensed software on a network and assist administrators in maintaining compliance. Consider whether you need straightforward network mapping capability or a more robust program like CMDB software.
- ROI with ITAM: Many IT asset management (ITAM) offerings not only allow network mapping, but also allow administrators to calculate ROIs for connected devices by evaluating asset costs and productivity. Evaluate whether or not these features would be useful for your specific environment.
Relevant network mapping software trends
- The internet of things (IoT) will create “smarter” network maps: As both mobile and hardwired network devices continue to collect more and more data, network maps will be able to share this information with administrators. Considering that IoT costs are projected to drop by 50% in the coming years , it’s likely that more small to midsize businesses will employ network mapping as a way to collect useful data from network devices.
- Mobile computing will require better network mapping: More and more enterprise applications will be accessed over a large population of mobile devices. Mapping software apps will become increasingly crucial as businesses struggle to accurately understand and visualize their growing virtual network of interconnected devices.